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Opinion: Student perspective on MLK and Black History Month

'My life wouldn’t be the way it is now'

Ailsa Kokoricha

Ailsa Kokoricha

LeopardLife Ailsa Kokoricha, Editor in Chief

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When others are asked to describe Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., they describe him as the world knew him: humanitarian, civil rights activist, pacifist. When I think of MLK and the dozens of other people who stood up for equality when the world said “no,” I see them as they are to me: The people who helped make my world the way it is now.

Without the individuals who spoke out about the unfairness, the horror of segregation, my life wouldn’t be the way it is now. For one thing, I would’ve never been here in America at all. I wouldn’t have the same friends, the same opportunities, nothing in my life would be the same.

My parents are British-Nigerian. They were both born in England but raised in Nigeria. My dad’s side of the family lives in London, while my mom’s side is primarily in Lagos. My parents got married in 2001 and moved to Philadelphia for my dad’s job. In 2003, my mom gave birth to my older sister, then to me in 2004 and my little sister in 2007. We moved to Lucas just last year and since then my life has just gotten better. I feel like my friends are better, my classes are better, and the area is better. Without Martin Luther King, none of this would’ve happened.

In sixth-grade my class read The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963, which tells the story of the Watson family as they make the rough transition from Flint, Michigan to racist Birmingham Alabama in 1963. There they experience the harsh treatment typically reserved for African-Americans in the day. However, it was only after I had watched the movie that I seriously began to grasp the depth of the discrimination in the 1960s.

Even today there are still organizations looking towards an even brighter future for those in the minority. Black Lives Matter, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Asian Americans for Equality, etc. are just a few of the civil rights organizations rooting for racial equality.

The people like Medgar Evers, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley who don’t earn credit for their bravery, are the ones who truly deserve it. The martyrs of the Civil Rights Movement haven’t been able to see the impact of their deaths, but the effects have changed the lives of millions.

No one can know exactly how my life and the lives of other African-Americans would’ve played out, but without all the people I listed above, I wouldn’t be here.  

“Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.” –Martin Luther King Jr.

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Opinion: Student perspective on MLK and Black History Month